Your Culture Equals Your Actions

“Company culture” is an often-used – and perhaps overused – term. But what do we really mean by culture? Let’s keep it simple: your culture is created by your actions. It’s not what you say, it’s what you do. Are your actions aligned with what you want your organization to be?

Bill Berthel: Welcome to the Get Emergent podcast. This is a podcast about leadership teams and organizational performance. At Emergent. We are committed to transforming leaders, teams, and organizations to perform at their highest potential I’m Bill Berthel.

Ralph Simone: I’m Ralph Simone. And today we’re gonna talk about culture and I, I, we love this topic because it’s like, Esoteric or fluffy and, and we hope you’ve been drawn in by the title.

Let’s demystify it right off the bat. We decided with the title, your culture equals your actions, period. What do you say about that Bill?

Bill Berthel: I love that, you know, it’s not what you say, it’s what you do. It’s not where you’re from. It’s what you do. It’s your actions. And we do wanna demystify this. We have five categories of behaviors or actions we wanna share with our listeners.

We believe will demonstrate, define, and show what your culture is. And now they just all happen to start with the letter C just to make it a little extra sticky to remember, right? So the first C word here is commitment. Every individual of that culture has to want to, you have to want to be there. You have to want to be part of it, and we demonstrate that through how we provide our own talents, our gifts.

How we perform in that organization, you gotta be committed.

Ralph Simone: I love that. You know, the example I’d like to share because this is an example in our region, we have a number of large supermarket chains. I will tell you that my experience is different. And more positive in one than the other. And it’s based on these actions, these actions that make for a better experience, you know, somebody specifically asking, did you find everything you were looking for? And if not, they go get it for you. Or if you have a question about where something is, they don’t tell you, they walk you to it. So that becomes why is that experience better?

Because their actions are aligned with the commitment they’re making to, I guess, in this case, customer service.

Bill Berthel: Absolutely. What an amazing demonstration of commitment to that customer in their environment now environment matters, but that doesn’t make up the culture. It’s how you behave in that environment.

The second category we wanna be able to talk about is competency. The C word here is competency, right? We have to have the knowledge, skills, and ability to perform, to behave what’s expected of us. And if we don’t have it, there needs to be a way to get it, to grow, develop, train. So we fit in that culture really well.

Right? So the competency of our knowledge, skills, and abilities, and how to behave. This’ll sound a little

Ralph Simone: nuanced, but it’s the panache in which someone takes you to that item. It’s the way in which they ask the question, you know, that they really are asking the question to find out that you did miss something and they, they are committed to sending someone to go get it.

I mean, I think it’s extremely powerful.

Bill Berthel: They know to ask, right. They know to ask they have the, uh, interpersonal skills to connect with you as that customer in the aisle or at the cash register wherever you are. Right. They have that ability, right. That’s so important. The third C word here in the, in the categories of culture is capacity.

Gotta have the time and the. To perform in the culture. We need to have the energy renewal, so we’re recharging ourselves so we can bring our best to that work, to that culture. We have to also provide the. You’re

Ralph Simone: reminding me of a story from my experience in the grocery business early on, I did not have the capacity to deal with the customer and help them become right.

Which, which was really part of the culture in the store I was growing up in. And I remember, you know, Packing the bags for this guy who was telling me to throw the meat with the soap and my ears were turning red and I would, and the owner’s observing it. And after the guy leaves, he calls me over and he says, Simon.

So he used to call me Simone, you don’t believe that the customer’s always right. Do you? And I, I said, geez, I don’t know what I should say. I’m 16 years old. Right. And then he said, but do you know what your job is? Your job is to make him whore her. Right. I love that in your actions. And that was the culture that he defined for me and I, I, but I had to develop the capacity to be able to do that.

So it was like making a suggestion instead of getting mad, or would you mind if I ran an experiment and put the soap in separately? Right. And so, but I had to develop that capacity to be able to do

Bill Berthel: that action. What a great example of that energetic capacity to be able to do that. Right. You could have chosen something different.

The connection. That’s our fourth C the connection your boss had with you to mentor you a little bit in that space, right? The connection we have with one another, it’s about relating to the others that are in our culture. We’re not soloists and cultures. We’re not, it’s not the wild west and we’re we’re, uh, individualized Cowboys, or whatever the analogy is.

We gotta relate. We gotta.

Ralph Simone: And bill. I love that, you know, Dan Coyle, who actually wrote a book called the culture code and we borrowed, you know, your culture equals your actions. He talks. A restaurant tour in, uh, New York city. I think his name was Danny Meyer and he owned a number of restaurants, union square Grammarcy park, the shake shack.

He looks at the connection between colleagues, between waiters as an indication, are their actions aligned with the priorities that they’ve established. As an entity as an organization. So if you and I are carrying a tray or I dump a tray and you come to help me, he’s watching for a positive connection.

Yes. From that interaction, then he knows our culture equals our action. We are truly there to serve one another. And so I think another powerful example of culture in action.

Bill Berthel: Beautiful, beautiful. And our, our last but not least category that starts with a C is competing prior. What’s pulling you away from being completely present in this culture, energetically time commitment.

Where are your thoughts? What are your competing priorities that you need to be able to, to mitigate, to alleviate? So you can be fully in all in, in the culture.

Ralph Simone: You know, we can’t be fully present, right. Our actions can’t be fully committed if we’re distracted. And, you know, I like to think of our coaching culture, right?

Our culture equals our actions. When we’re coaching somebody we’re present, we’re kind, we’re curious and we’ helpful. And so those translate into behaviors of being undistracted. Nonjudgment. Asking really good provocative questions, right. And then supporting people along the way. And so again, culture equals actions, culture equals actions.

Bill Berthel: Love it. You know? So as a leader, in a culture, we believe you have to ask yourself three important questions on how you’re creating more success for people to perform and behave in your cultures. It’s around the, the safety it’s around the safety in this culture. Can my people feel really safe. In all ways, obviously the physical safety is important, but the psychological safety is as equally important.

Ralph Simone: And bill, I think you gotta recognize that just by virtue of being the boss. There’s a little bit of unsafeness that enters the equation because of people’s paradigm around what you can do and say in front of your boss. Right? So that safety piece, there’s a, you’ve gotta transcend that some way when you’re a leader.

Bill Berthel: Absolutely. Absolutely. That speaks really well to the second question. Am I creating an environment where people can be vulnerable? Can I disagree with my boss? Can I share a risky idea? You know, intelligent, risky, you know, can I be vulnerable with my ideas, my contribution.

Ralph Simone: I’m gonna take a shot at myself with this one.

I used to, uh, joke around and it really didn’t create a safe environment and it wasn. Very vulnerable. I used to say that, you know, you’ve heard the thing. There’s no such thing as a stupid question. And then I’d say, well, it’s not true because we’ve all heard them. That is not the way to create safety.

That is not the way to invite people to be vulnerable. That’s really a way to get people, to play it safe and not take the risk. So we really have to be mindful of what we’re saying, but more importantly, what we’re doing. So as a leader, Ask a question that makes you vulnerable shares that I, I have no idea what to do next and, you know, genuinely, and I think that’s the level of vulnerability we’re, we’re looking for.

I, I remember a colleague of ours telling me I made her feel less than once because I was acting really confident about something that she was a nervous wreck about. And it was because I wasn’t being honest and vulnerable. I was also a nervous wreck, but I was trying to put on my game face. Right. And it, it didn’t create the conditions for her to engage, uh, for her actions to be as powerful as it could be.

Bill Berthel: Absolutely. The third question as a leader to really build an effective culture where people are getting set up for success. You know, purpose, what is the purpose of our culture? And are we on purpose? Are we intentional about what we’re doing? Are we able to articulate to everyone in the culture? What the purpose of our organization, our efforts, our behaviors are.

Ralph Simone: Love that are we taking enough time? We need to chunk up. Why are we here? I’m always amazed at myself and others sometimes complaining about how much work they have. Isn’t isn’t that part of our purpose we’re trying to serve and we’re trying to serve more people and we’re trying to make a contribution.

And yet we lose sight of that. We almost sometimes start to see the customer’s interruption. As opposed to part of why we are here in being on purpose.

Bill Berthel: And I’ve often thought of culture, and this almost sounds disrespectful to culture. And I don’t mean that at all, but it’s actually, it’s simply a side effect.

It’s simply this thing that occurs from the actions, from the behaviors that are shared amongst a common.

Ralph Simone: We are what we do. What is it? So a thought REPA habit, REPA habit, create a character, create a character, a achieve of destiny. I didn’t paraphrase that correctly, but the idea we are what we do. And so your culture equals your actions.

Cultivate the witness. Observe are your actions aligned with the culture that you are intending to create? Because that is what you are creating, whatever you’re doing.

Bill Berthel: Yeah. I love it. So I think as any member of a culture, you can ask yourself, what’s my commitment level. So I have the knowledge, skills, and abilities to be competent, right?

The competencies to be effective in this culture. But I have the capacity by giving it the time and energy this culture really can, uh, benefit from, from. The connection. What are my relationships look like? How am I relating through appreciation, trust, supporting one another, right. Interdependency in the culture.

And then what are my competing priorities and how am I managing those? Be sure to join us every other week here at the get emergent podcast where you will learn about strategies. And ideas of how to increase your leadership and team effectiveness. Thank you.


Note: The preceding text is the output of transcribing from an audio recording. Although the transcription is largely accurate, in some cases it is incomplete or inaccurate due to inaudible passages or transcription errors

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